Dianne Jago » mom blogger & founder of Deeply Rooted Magazine

ethanjago-homecoming-27When we arrived at the airport, we were told Ethan’s plane would be delayed. A 2-hour car drive and some change at the airport paled in comparison to the months he was away. We were about to be reunited with him and the extra hour didn’t matter to us.

The kids ran around the airport in excitement. We made a homemade sign that they couldn’t wait to show him. They wanted to smother him with hugs and kisses and update him on all the things he missed while he was away. After some time passed, they directed all the families awaiting loved ones to stand in the front. I left the stroller and diaper bag behind (for picture purposes, obviously – haha) and watched as the first soldier stepped out through the swinging doors just before us. Every family stared in anticipation at the unknown figure in camouflage attire, hoping it was their special someone. Slowly, men and women trickled in. A round of applause was given to each person stepping through the door. One after another after another poured in but Ethan was nowhere to be seen. Each time the door swung open our heart fluttered. As the number of people out the door grew, each person not my husband left us a little deflated.

The kids started getting restless. “I thought you said we were going to see Daddy. I don’t see him here,” Kaiden cried. “Where’s my daddy?” Skye chimed in. A chain reaction amongst the kids began and before I knew it all three kids were crying on the floor. We were unable to get to diaper bags and snacks and bottles for fear of missing the moment he would step out. We stood there – Cora in hip, Skye in hand, and Kaiden by my side – waiting and watching dozens upon dozens of servicemembers step out for four whole hours. (My arm muscles were sore for days to follow, ha.)

And then, finally we spotted a shadowy figure behind the luggage cart filled to the brim with gear — there he was! All the kid’s tears and moods were gone. Kaiden sprinted to his dad. Skye followed. I let them jump on him and wrap their arms around him before I got my turn. We gave each other a kiss and then he looked down at his daughter who had grown so much in six months. But she didn’t recognize him. She cried, clinging to me even tighter.

We made our way out to a less crowded space where we could just be and in those moments everything felt right in the world. Similar to labor pains, everything that precluded his arrival was nothing but a distant memory. We soaked in the fact that we were together in the flesh. No more broken up phone calls. No more updates of each other through pictures. We could hold hands and kiss and talk in person and hug and date.:)

We drove home staring at each other with dumb smiles on our faces, affirming the love that grew fonder even in distance. I praised God for returning my husband home safely, for having his hand of protection on us as he was away, and for strengthening our marriage while being apart. There is no denying that God sustained us in this season. <3

PS. My dear friend Marisa took these incredible pictures for us. They are actually for an article in our upcoming issue (releasing mid-October) where I’ve written about the deployment and how his homecoming is a beautiful illustration of our heavenly homecoming. Normally, we don’t post shoot photos prior to publication but since these are so personal (and because I’m the editor, haha) I’m posting. I’m just so grateful that we have these memories documented. Thank you, Marisa!

PPS. It took Cora a few days to adjust to her dad but after several puzzled looks and several cautious face grabs, she knew who Daddy was.

Phyllis Godshall -

Welcome home, Ethan! With many thanks, may you have a blessed time with your family!

I’ve attempted a Pinterest-worthy birthday party or two in the past and have found myself way too get caught up in details. I’ve learned that simple can still be pretty and it’s actually a lot more enjoyable when I’m actually engaging in the event I’ve planned. For Skye’s 3rd birthday I just wanted her to feel loved and celebrated. I knew that details like fancy dishes or themed-party favors wouldn’t mean much to her so I cut out the unecessary and focused on things I knew she would enjoy. Here are some pictures from her special day:
Skyes Party-8834I made homemade strawberry cake/cupcakes, refried bean dip, cole slaw, and bunch. We grilled burgers, hot dogs, amongst other typical BBQ food.
SkyesBday1We set out croquet, frisbees, and corn-hole for some yard games. I noticed hat the kids preferred playing tag or wrestling in the grass even better and by night time they were catching fireflies and putting them in jars.Skyes Party-8841Ethan rigged up a ride for the kiddos by connecting our bicycle trailer to our four wheeler, haha. We managed to fit five kids on the ride at once.Skyes Party-8844Skyes Party-8829Skyes Party-8842Skyes Party-8850We had the little girls make DIY wands. I wish I took more pictures of this but I’m glad I set the camera down and took the time to help them assemble all the pieces. We used dowel sticks, glitter foam (with adhesive on the back), ribbons, and twine.

Skyes Party-8875The kids loved hitting the pinata. Here you see Skye laying on the ground having a silent tantrum because it was no longer her turn. It took the kids a lot of swings to get it open so eventually she caught on to the concept of sharing.:)
Skyes Party-8874Skyes Party-8885Skyebday2Skyes Party-8890Skyes Party-8897SkyeBirthday3Skyes Party-8900Skyes Party-8913Skyes Party-8924We are missing a few people that came but we were so blessed to have lots of family and friends come celebrate.
Skyes Party-8932We ended the evening by projecting Angelina Ballerina on the barn. We didn’t realize when we moved here that we would be forced to use data, satellite internet so I was so happy to find a dvd of this at a thrift store for $2.:)

All in all, it was a great time for everyone. It’s hard to believe that my little Skye is already three years old but it’s been so neat to watch her personality come out. I’m so blessed to be her mom and am praying the Lord gives her many years to come.

Vickie Holt -

Nice job Diane! Simple is always the best. Looks like everyone had a great time.

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Kennebunk, Maine for our cousin’s wedding. I fell in love with the town and even more so with my husband’s family that we spent the weekend with. For years, he has been telling me about the Jago-side cousins that he grew up with and I finally got to meet them! Words cannot explain how wonderful this weekend was, especially after losing our dog the night before our trip. We came back home refreshed and excited to know that more family is just a drive away. These are some pictures from the weekend. Maine1This was our cute, little cottage.
MaineBlog-8395Getting settled in.MaineBlog-8400Breakfast at a local eaterie w/ family. I had lobster with scrambled eggs. Maine is pretty much seafood heaven.MaineBlog-8413We love the beach and it was neat seeing a different type of terrain than what we’ve seen in both East and West Coast beaches.
MaineBlog-8498The water was cold but that didn’t stop Kaiden and his cousin from bulding sand castles.MaineBlog-8417I love that they are best buds.MaineBlog-8445“Skye, let me take a picture of you!” And then she posed like this, haha.
MaineBlog-8456MaineBlog-8428Cora with her granny and pop pop.Maine3MaineBlog-8471Maine2MaineBlog-8437MaineBlog-8502See what I mean about seaside? The houses were goregeous.MaineBlog-8505We got ripped off on this lobster roll and chowder but it was good!MaineBlog-8515They are all ready for the wedding! This is about as dressed up as we get.MaineBlog-8519The wedding venue was gorgeous.MaineBlog-8520MaineBlog-8532Second cousin love.
MaineBlog-8548Ethan with his cousins. They are all so beautiful!MaineBlog-8552MaineBlog-8577More Jago-side family.MaineBlog-8553Me and Cora Bora.Maine4MaineBlog-8597The day after the wedding we had a BBQ with the family. It was nice to just relax and hang with everyone.MaineBlog-8606The guys played some ball. They called me out so I could take a pic of Ethan in his short shorts, lol. These are common in his career field and other special ops career fields. If you didn’t know, now you know, ha!MaineBlog-8612And a family pic (minus a few families.)

There ya have it! We love Maine and can’t wait to go back!:)

Elysha Jago Wahlberg -

So fun! Wish we could’ve been there

Megan-Tony Colella -

Feel like we have known you forever! Love you guys

In the weeks leading up to Ethan’s trip overseas, I began to feel anxious. I’ve never been the anxious type, but there were so many emotions and thoughts flooding my mind. Will this distance put a wedge in our marriage? In the past, it was easy for me to grow bitter over his absence. I didn’t want that to happen. Will we be the same people at the end of all of this? I wondered if war would change him and if independence would change me. What complicated things will I have to face on my own? He does so much for us and I knew I would have to step into those areas. The unknown had my head spinning.We both just wanted him to go ahead and leave so we could get the goodbye out of the way, enter into the new season of life, and start the countdown to his arrival.

Cora was only two months old when he left, and this would be my first time parenting three kids plus running a business.  As many servicemember spouses can attest, it’s difficult to play the role of mom and dad. And later I would learn that it’s not just the added duties (like handling car situations or being the disciplinarian) that add to one’s responsibility, but there is so much involved in caring for your child’s emotions in the process. Kaiden wrestled with his dad’s absence, and that was something I didn’t expect.

But God is so good. Between my time in the Word and the sheer amount of responsibility I had weighing on my shoulders, I became more independent and anchored in who I am as a child of God. And with that my prayer life transformed completely. (This book aided in that a lot.) God also used the time alone to reveal a lot of junk in my heart. And oh,  there was a lot of it. The refining process was painful at times, but every weakness of mine revealed a greater need for Him. Each month into my husband’s deployment taught me a new lesson and revealed realities of God’s character that I hadn’t encountered before.

Between the three kids, two Deeply Rooted issue releases, a retreat launch, and Christmas sales, things could’ve easily spun out of control. Through His Word, through the help of my family and our local church body (and strangers I didn’t even know), through the prayers of so many people across the country, He equipped me with everything I needed to face each day with peace and patience and to be strong for my kids. Now I look at that season with fondness. Did I miss Ethan? Most definitely. There were lonely moments – my birthday and Christmas, most especially. There were random water works from time to time, but God met me in those places. It helped to think about the fact that He could hear my prayers while watching down on Ethan just the same as He watches down on me. It helped me to have to teach and model the very things I was learning to my kids.

My dad likes to joke and say that absence can either make the heart grow fonder or wander. Marriage requires so much intention, and even more so when you’re separated geographically. But there were no wedges. There was no bitterness. And while we both realized we grew to be different people within that time frame, it was for the better. We both grew in our identity in Christ and in turn we grew closer in our marriage in spite of the distance. We are just so incredibly happy that Ethan is home. Thank you all for your prayers. <3

Here is a glimpse of our life since October:

IMG_6762Shortly after he left we began packing his first care package. The kids had fun coloring the insides of the box and writing him notes.
IMG_7091Cora started on solid foods. It would take her a while until she realized she liked it.
IMG_6841I spent a lot of nights and naptimes planning for our retreat. This is a shot from one of the cabins our attendees will sleep in.IMG_7139We experienced our first Pennsylvania Fall and boy, was it beautiful.IMG_7119We celebrated Kaiden’s 5th birthday. We also celebrated mine a few weeks later.View More: http://char-co.pass.us/deeplyrootedI had the opportunity to be photographed and featured for Char Co’s Masters of Their Craft series. I also participated in my first podcast over at the Gospel Driven EntrepreneurIMG_7130We spent Thanksgiving at Ethan’s uncles house. The kids had a blast and it felt nice to be around family.

IMG_7009We published two issues while he was away. Thanksgiving and Christmas sales kept me so busy with packaging, marketing, and e-mails. My mom took Cora for a few weeks during our busiest season and it was such a blessing. A few friends came over to help me wrap magazines and once we were out of that busy season I could finally breathe.
IMG_7298We spent Christmas in Wisconsin! Cora is with my lola (grandma). Lola lived with us for three months in PA and she was such a blessing to us.IMG_7495Ethan was gone a lot before but this was the first time I had to parent three kids on my own. I had to work through a lot of different  things…including permanent marker messes, ha.
IMG_7515We survived the “snowpocalypse.” The kids had a blast but shoveling wore me out. Thankfully, a few neighbors and members from church came and helped me out.IMG_7611We celebrated Lola’s birthday. She loves rice krispy treats so we made that instead of cake.IMG_7720And there were just a lot of mundane things to do. I strongly dislike folding clothes.IMG_7730Once the snow melted and the sun popped out we were out of the house and outside.ethanjago-homecoming-84And then he came home! This is just one of the many beautiful homecoming pictures my friend Marisa Albrecht took. I was so grateful for her images and am excited to publish them in the next issue! (Skye is a little hidden here but you can see her leg popping out, haha.)

IMG_7780We spent Easter weekend at his parent’s house and this was a shot his dad grabbed when it was our turn to hunt for our gift.:)IMG_7953We vacationed in the Poconos with some friends. This was definitely a favorite moment.

IMG_7850You may have read on my Instagram, we are in contract to buy a farmhouse! More on that later!!!!!! (PS. There is original wood under this carpet!)

IMG_8221We also bought a van that we are going to turn into a surf fan/camp van. Don’t judge. It was $350 and everyone’s doing it. Okay, maybe not everyone.
IMG_8151Our Spring issue just released. This is my quick version of the studio set up. Thanks to Coca Cola and Skye for the assistance.
IMG_8312And we celebrated Mother’s Day by going to church, Olive Garden, and Hershey Park!

All that to say, apologies for the absence lately. There have been so many times I wanted to sit and blog but I had to be very intentional with my time for the sake of my walk with God, family, and business. I’m hoping to be blog a little more frequently again, but you know how these things go.:)


Peace Ful -

It was great hearing from you I look forward to the next blog. Take care and be blessed. Regina Johnson

IMG_7203Tonight’s bedtime was filled with a lot of tears. When Ethan left he told Kaiden that it was Kai’s job to be the man of the house. Although the goodbye was hard, Kaiden was excited to step in and take charge. And in ways, he has. He’s been my cuddle buddy, a big help with his two sisters, and someone that I can talk to and laugh with. We’ve had mini dates and sometimes we watch movies and stay up way past his bedtime. But tonight Kaiden told me that he no longer wants to be the man of the house. He said he just wants his daddy to come home so that Daddy can be the man of the house. I knew that Ethan’s absence would be hard but there have been so many random outbursts of tears in moments I never expected.

I’ve come to realize how important it is to stay strong for my children. (And it’s completely the grace of God that I haven’t lost it in front of them thus far.) With arms wrapped around him and fighting back tears of my own, I remind Kaiden that it is okay to be sad. It’s okay to even cry. It’s understandable because the best guy in the world is far away but when we feel sad we can pray. We can tell God how we are feeling. He listens and He cares. And then, through prayer, we remind ourselves the things we can take comfort in God for. Like the fact that He sees everything and He even sees his Daddy when we can’t. Or the fact that He is our protector and Kaiden can ask God to protect Daddy as he travels. And through our prayers I’ve found Kaiden’s own prayer life evolving into something beautiful. It’s become something so much more than requests for “more toys please.” He’s started to pray for people outside of himself and that’s been a beautiful thing to witness.

After we prayed tonight, he was still distraught and so we listened to some of his Christian dance songs. One of the songs quotes Ephesians 6:10 and says “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” I pulled off his covers and we just danced around the room until he couldn’t help but giggle at how goofy his mom looked. I tucked him into bed, turned on some Adventures in Odyssey, and closed the door to a boy who was smiling and in better spirits.

And this is where our faith meets our current circumstances. How does my theology bring hope in moments of heartache? How can I use this as a tool to teach my kids about how to interact with God? I refuse to waste the time I’ve been given. I miss Ethan so incredibly much but there is much to learn from this season of life. A walk of faith requires intention! It would be so easy to give in to my emotions, throw pity parties for myself, and just sulk in our difficulties. But there’s no hope in that. My joy comes from the Lord, not the constant shifting of life. And so I apply the very things I teach Kaiden: praying, listening to things that encourage (like Christian music or sermons), and reading my Bible to keep my mind anchored in truth. There is hope in a God that is good (Psalm 145:9) and sovereign (Psalm 135:6). And if we believe He is good then we can trust him completely as he works all things for His perfect purposes (Romans 8:28). I can look back at difficult moments in the past and see how God used those situations to grow me, change my heart, and conform me to His image. And I can trust that He is doing the same today, both in my heart and in Kaiden’s. Thank you for your continued prayers. <3

“My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares nothing ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God’ (Rom. 8:39). Nothing.”

Kara Tippets, The Hardest Peace

“But because I believe God’s plans for me are better than what I could plan for myself, rather than run away from the path he has set before me, I want to run toward it. I don’t want to try to change God’s mind — his thoughts are perfect. I want to think his thoughts. I don’t want to change God’s timing — his timing is perfect. I want the grace to accept his timing. I don’t want to change God’s plan — his plan is perfect. I want to embrace his plan and see how he is glorified through it. I want to submit.”

Nancy Guthrie